The US FDA and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have launched a 120-day pilot program to help reduce the availability of unapproved opioids illegally offered for sale online.

Under the pilot program, the FDA will notify participating internet registries (Neustar, Verisign and Public Interest Registry) when the agency sends a warning letter to a website operator and the website operator does not respond adequately within the required timeframe. The internet registries will review the FDA’s notifications and assess whether to take further voluntary action, including possible domain name suspensions or blocks. The NTIA, a branch of the US Department of Commerce, responsible for telecommunications and information policy issues, will work with the internet registries involved in the pilot, and partner with the FDA to assess its impact.

At the end of the pilot, the agencies will analyze its effectiveness as a potential solution to dealing with the illegal sale of unapproved opioids online.

“Cooperation between the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce, with the addition of the pilot program, will help stop the online sale of illicit opioids and combat our country’s deadly addiction crisis,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

The FDA remains committed to addressing the national opioid crisis on all fronts, with a continued focus on decreasing exposure to opioids and preventing new addiction; supporting the treatment of those with opioid use disorder; fostering the development of novel pain treatment therapies; and taking action against those who contribute to the illegal sale and importation of unapproved opioids.